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Declassify documents on Lal Bahadur Shastri's death, ex-PM's son urges Centre

Former prime minister LB Shastri's death on January 11, 1966, in Russia's Tashkent is still shrouded in mystery.

Declassify documents on Lal Bahadur Shastri's death, ex-PM's son urges Centre

Chandigarh: Former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's son and senior Congress leader Anil Shastri has urged the Narendra Modi-led NDA government to declassify all documents related to the death of his father in Russia's Tashkent in 1966.

Former prime minister LB Shastri died under mysterious circumstances on January 11, 1966, in Russia's Tashkent.

Anil Shastri made these remarks while speaking on the sidelines of the release of a Punjabi translation of the book "Lal Bahadur Shastri: Lessons in Leadership".

Anil urged the Centre to consider his demand to "clear the air once and for all" around the circumstances of his father's passing away in 1966.

"We want all documents pertaining to Shastriji's death to be declassified," Anil Shastri said.

The original version of the book, which is in English, has been penned by Pavan Choudary with anecdotes given by Anil Shastri. The English version of the book was earlier released by the Dalai Lama.

Lal Bahadur Shastri died in Tashkent on January 11, 1966, at the age of 61, soon after signing the Tashkent Pact with Pakistan. It was then said that Shastri died of cardiac arrest but his family alleged foul play.

"Many things have been said about the way he died, even yesterday a young man walked to me at Delhi airport and asked me how my father had died. Family members and the common public still have suspicion because the circumstances in which Shastriji died were uncommon...," Anil said.

He even demanded that the findings of the Raj Narain Committee, which was constituted in 1977 to look into the mysterious death of LB Shastri, should also be brought in public domain.

"When BJP was in opposition, one of their major demands was that the documents related to Shastriji's death be declassified. Today, I am not asking as a politician, but as a son. Although they have been in power for the past four years, they have not done so although files related to Subhas Chandra Bose were recently declassified,'' he said.

"If the Prime Minister can take a decision on this and release the findings of the Raj Narain committee report and declassify documents related to Shastriji's death, I think once and for all, it would clear the air," Anil said.

The veteran Congress leader claimed that the previous governments refused to reveal information, saying they were classified documents.

Speaking about the book, Anil said it was a biography that encapsulated Lal Bahadur Shastri's inspiring life, presenting a recollection of his childhood, his adult and public life narrated by him and interpreted by Pavan Choudary. 

The book has been published by Wisdom Village Publications. The book has also been made available in Hindi, Gujarati and Tamil.

"In Tamil Nadu, it is prescribed in certain schools as a moral science book," he added.

Anil recalled how as a 15-year-old, his father who was a prime minister then, had touched his feet only to teach his teenage son "how to touch feet of elders in a proper manner".

"Without any formal management education, he practised all modern concepts of human resource management," he said about his father.

"He had a high risk-taking ability and he demonstrated it. During the 1965 war with Pakistan, he would not sit at home. He would travel and address jawans at the border and keep motivating them," he added.

Though he was a man of peace and never wanted war, at the same time, he felt any aggressor had to be paid back in the same coin, Anil said about his father.

(With PTI inputs)